During the most recent portion of this extended Yankee slump, there's been an argument that the Yankees don't play "small ball" well enough.
There aren't enough rallies built around four hits in a row, not enough hitting and running and some even think they need a little more bunting. Basically, the problem is that they Yankees aren't scoring enough runs so people are under the impression that trying things a different way will get them some runs and some wins.
They got six runs on Thursday. The Orioles got 10, though.
Six straight Yankees reached base with two outs in the top of the eighth inning and the Yankees scored five runs without a homer to tie the game at six after David Phelps had dug his team a huge hole. It felt like the moment when the light went on, the moment when the Yankees realized again that they were the Yankees and that the Orioles were pretenders to their throne.
That light went out exactly three pitches into the bottom of the eighth. That was when David Robertson grooved a straight and meaty fastball that Adam Jones put into the seats to lift the Orioles back to the lead.
Such a moment would have been jeered by a stadium filled with Yankee fans who took the train down for the game in past years, but the Orioles filled the park with their fans. It helped that it was Cal Ripken Night, but it also helps that the Orioles have just kept winning when given the opportunity to make an honorable exit from the race.
That's what the Yankees gave them Thursday with that two-out rally, the second time in the last week that they've battered the Orioles' best set-up man Pedro Strop in the late innings. The Orioles wanted nothing to do with it, though.
Jones' homer was followed two batters later by a Mark Reynolds two-run job, his second of the night and his third two-homer game against the Yanks since last Friday. Robertson served him the same meaty fastball he served Jones, which is the same pitch the Yankees keep giving Reynolds even though he's never really proven capable of hitting anything else.
Boone Logan came on at that point to surrender a homer to Chris Davis because no one wants to be the last kid into the pool. A stirring Yankee comeback was a distant memory by the time Baltimore's sixth homer of the night sailed into the seats and the Yankees looked shellshocked by the fact they were about to lose sole possession of first place.
Small ball got the Yankees back into the game. Big ball buried them four batters later.
It was the worst loss of the season, in terms of both the standings and the way it went down. The way the Yankees are going right now, it might not hold that spot for long.